Power Captures Mid-Ohio Pole and Locks Up Road Course Championship to Lead Team Penske Qualifying Effort
LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 7, 2010) -- On Saturday, Team Penske won its 10th pole position of the IZOD IndyCar Series season, and this one was a special one for Will Power.
Driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda, Power posted a lap of 1:07.1997 around the 13-turn, 2.26-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Saturday afternoon to win the pole position for Sunday's Honda Indy 200 presented by Westfield Insurance.
The single point earned in the championship standings by winning the pole will allow Power to clinch the first Mario Andretti Road Course Championship awarded in the IZOD IndyCar Series, when he starts the race on Sunday. Power also tied the series' single-season record with his seventh pole of the season (teammate Helio Castroneves won seven poles in 2007). Power now has a 51-point lead in the overall series championship over Dario Franchitti, who qualified second on Saturday. Power has won four races this season and he'll be looking to add to that total on Sunday.
It certainly wasn't an easy route to the pole for Power, however. The 29-year-old native of Toowoomba, Australia crashed during the morning practice session, and his crew had to scramble to prepare the backup Verizon car in time for the qualifying session. Power recorded his fastest time on his final lap.
"After this morning's accident, it really feels good to put the Verizon car on the pole," said Power. "I just made a mistake in the morning practice and I put the team in a tough spot. I'm happy for the Verizon guys because they had to work hard to get the backup car ready for qualifying. Now we need to go out and get a win tomorrow. We had kind of a tough result at Edmonton (two weeks ago) and we need to bounce back from it. It will definitely be an honor to win the road course championship, especially with all the great road course drivers in this series. It just shows how hard Team Penske has worked to get to this point. But we're still really focused on winning the overall championship and we need to take it one race at a time, starting with tomorrow here at Mid-Ohio."
Castroneves will start sixth in Sunday's race after he posted a top lap of 1:07.5370 in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda. Castroneves is a two-time winner for Team Penske at Mid-Ohio and he will be looking to improve on his sixth-place standing in the championship on Sunday afternoon.
"It's great for Team Penske having Will earn the pole, which certainly shows that we have fast cars," said Castroneves. "Unfortunately for the No. 3 car we tried everything that we could, but we came up a little short. We will look at the data tonight, and I feel good about our race set-up. Tomorrow, I know that my guys will give me fast pit stops and TC (Tim Cindric) will call a great race. I am looking forward to it."
Ryan Briscoe will start seventh in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda. After a spin late in the second round of qualifying, Briscoe's car made contact with the machine driven by Justin Wilson as both drivers were trying to advance to the final round.
"It's a bit of a frustrating qualifying result because we know we have a quick car here and I was hoping to fight for the pole," said Briscoe, who won the pole last season at Mid-Ohio and led the morning practice session. "After our spin, we had to hustle to try and get one more lap to try and make the Fast Six. After I came out of the pits, there was a car that went off in front of me, so I was watching him and being a little cautious. I didn't expect (Justin Wilson) to be driving so aggressively with the car in the grass and we just got together. It's really too bad for both of us as we were both trying to make it into the final round of qualifying. We'll be starting seventh tomorrow and I know we have a fast car and we'll have a good game plan heading into the race, so we're still looking for a strong result."
Power has led an impressive qualifying effort by Team Penske this season. The team has taken the pole position in 10 of the 12 IZOD IndyCar Series events this season, including a series record eight in a row.
"It's just a credit to all the preparation and hard work by all three teams," said Power. "Team Penske just focuses on all the little details and it really makes a difference when you try to put together a fast lap."
-source: team penske